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Niwa Nagashige, the eldest son of the loyal general Niwa Nagahide under Oda Nobunaga, entered the realm of warfare at the tender age of 12. His initial taste of battle occurred alongside his father during the confrontation against Shibata Katsuie under Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the Battle of Shizugatake. In the following year, at the age of 13, Nagashige stepped into the shoes of his ailing father and led the Niwa army at the Battle of Komaki-Nagakute.

Tragedy struck at the age of 14 when Niwa Nagashige found himself thrust into the position of the head of the Niwa clan and in charge of his father's extensive 1,230,000 koku estates following Nagahide's passing. While Nagashige's father was wed to an adopted daughter of their master, Oda Nobunaga, Nagashige's union was with Ho-onin, the actual 5th daughter of Nobunaga.

The shifting tides of power and alliances brought challenges to Nagashige's legacy. Accused of treachery during the 1585 attacks on the Toyama region, Toyotomi Hideyoshi demoted Nagashige from 1,230,000 koku to a mere 150,000 koku. Further setbacks occurred two years later during the Kyushu subjugation, with Nagashige's income reduced to a meager 40,000 koku. However, his valor at the Siege of Odawara led Hideyoshi to restore his fortunes, elevating his income to 120,000 koku.

Remaining loyal to the Toyotomi clan, Nagashige aligned himself with the Western forces under Ishida Mitsunari at the Battle of Sekigahara. This alliance resulted in the loss of his daimyo status and possessions. Recognizing Nagashige's value, Tokugawa Ieyasu granted him 10,000 koku and land at Futsuto in present-day Ibaragi Prefecture in 1603. The Niwa family name was fully reinstated after Nagashige's exemplary service in the Battles of Osaka in 1614 and 1615, where he fought under Tokugawa colors. He received lands at Edosaki along with 20,000 koku, followed by an increase to 50,000 koku and the Tanakura (Fukushima) Domain in 1622. In 1627, he was transferred to Shirakawa in modern-day Fukushima Prefecture, earning 100,700 koku. During his tenure, he expanded and reconstructed Komine Castle.

Niwa Nagashige breathed his last on April 30, 1637, just shy of his 66th birthday. His final resting place is at the Enmei-ji Temple in Shirakawa, Fukushima Prefecture, a testament to his enduring legacy in Japanese history.

 


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